Immediate versus delayed visual memory task performance among schizophrenic patients and normal control subjects

Psychiatry Res. 1998 Jul 13;79(3):255-65. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(98)00040-7.


In an exploratory study, 10 schizophrenic patients and 10 normal control subjects performed immediate and delayed memory tasks, which were variants of previously developed continuous performance tests. Both tasks required participants to identify five-digit numbers which were repeated. Numbers were presented in series for 500 ms each and separated by a 500-ms time-out period. In the immediate memory task, subjects were to respond if a number was identical to the one that had immediately preceded it. The delayed memory task differed from the first task in that a longer delay (3.5 s) between stimuli was introduced, and during this delay distracter stimuli appeared. While normal control subjects performed accurately on both tasks (exceeding 80% correct detections), schizophrenic patients performed poorly, performing worse on the delayed memory task than on the immediate memory task. Rates of commission errors (responses made to similar, but not identical numbers) were nearly equal between groups on the immediate memory task, but on the delayed memory task normal control subjects made relatively more commission errors while schizophrenic patients made fewer commission errors. No differences in response latencies were observed between subject groups or tasks. This paradigm may prove useful in discriminating subtle differences in immediate and delayed memory capability among psychiatric populations and normal control subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / classification
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Schizophrenia / classification
  • Schizophrenia / complications*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology*
  • Time Factors
  • Volition / physiology